by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producer
CHICAGO (CBS) — Facing a growing number of controversies, embattled Ald. James Gardiner could face a potential censure from his colleagues on the City Council, after a fellow alderman proposed holding public hearings into his conduct.
Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd) introduced a resolution calling on the City Council Rules Committee to hold a hearing on a series of offensive text messages in which Gardiner used slurs when talking about fellow Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and about women who work in city politics.
“We are deeply concerned about Alderman Gardiner’s apparent recurrent use of derogatory language about one of his colleagues, multiple women who work in and around City Council, and his own constituents,” her resolution states.
Rodriguez-Sanchez also wants the Rules Committee to look into reports Gardiner used a ward staffer to get private court records he could use in retaliation against political opponents.
She has previously taken to Twitter to call on Gardiner to resign.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot already has recommended the city’s inspector general look into Gardiner’s comments about women, his possible retaliation against political opponents, and reports of him denying services to constituents who have criticized him.
According to published reports, federal investigators have launched a probe into Gardiner’s conduct in office, including whether he retaliated against critics and political opponents in his ward.
City Council rules allow aldermen to censure or even expel “any member acting or appearing in a lewd or disgraceful manner, or who uses opprobrious, obscene or insulting language to or about any member of the Council.”
“Alderman Gardiner’s behavior does not have a home in our government, and his words and actions do not represent the values and vision of our city,” the resolution states. “The City Council must make it abundantly clear that we do not condone this kind of behavior from one of our members.”
While Gardiner has apologized to at least one of the targets of his offensive text messages, he has yet to publicly apologize, and has not addressed the claims of retaliation against his opponents.
He was late arriving to Tuesday’s City Council meeting, arriving shortly after a critic of his was speaking during the meeting’s public comment period, urging Gardiner to resign.
Pete Czosnyka, a frequent critic of Gardiner’s, has said his criticism has made him a target of retaliation.
A woman was caught on video destroying the front yard of his Northwest Side home with a sport-utility vehicle, and screaming loudly as she did so. Czosnyka said the same woman in the same SUV drove by hours earlier yelling at him to leave Gardiner alone.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Czosnyka claimed “there are more stories that will come out” about Gardiner’s behavior, and urged aldermen to join him and Rodriguez-Sanchez in demanding Gardiner resign.
“From a personality like Gardiner’s, any apology will be merely an effort to word salad his way out of a bad situation. An apology needs to be heartfelt, and Gardiner has not demonstrated evidence of human empathy. Apology without accountability is worthless, and the only accountability that is appropriate is Gardiner’s immediate resignation,” he said. “Alderman Gardiner, show some spine. Just resign.”